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#536979 06/26/21 04:10 PM
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I live on a big flood-plain, with an extremely high water table, in spring the ground water is only a foot or two from the surface. Other than a thin layer of top-soil, it's 200 feet of pure sand beneath me.

So I recently dug a pretty large pond, perhaps 4 acres. I dug as deep as I could, which was probably 10-14 feet. As I dug the pond instantly filled up with ground water, and as expected rises and falls with the water table (probably 4 feet over the year).

Because of the high water table, and extremely porous nature of sand -- I don't think it's feasible to ever get a liner into the pond. (Unless you can line a pond that's already full?)

But unfortunately there's enough iron in the ground water that it kind of fouls up and the pond and it's not super pretty. So I'd like a sanity check before I conduct the next stage of my plan:

There's a river perhaps 400 yards from my pond which I can (legally) pump from. It has very clean water, just unfortunately lower than the pond, so I'll actually need to actively pump it.

So what I was thinking of doing, is calculating how much evaporation a pond of my size would experience each day and pump a bit more water than that into the pond. My reasoning is that instead of ground-water filling the pond, my pond will push water into the ground and be a lot cleaner.

Does that make sense, does it seem like a reasonable approach?

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I would dye the pond and see how fast the dye dissipates. You need to know if there is just water going out of the pond due to evaporation, or through the pond when the pond is full.


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Well the pond is dug straight into sand -- so the pond level really just is the water table level. There's obviously some evaporation, so to refill it the water is coming out of the ground. The pond doesn't really collect rain water at all (other than what directly falls upon it)

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Water will flow both into and out of your pond. There is slow current. You know this because the water level fluctuates and so it is slowly moving through the sand. The pond is a shortcut in terms of pressure drop and so it will actually support a greater flow than its surrounding sandy soil (same cross sectional area). So what esshup is suggesting will happen. Water flowing in will dilute the dye and water flowing out will take it way. Eventually most all the dye will have left the pond and you won't be able tell it ever went in.. Esshup has gained a lot of experience in his neck of the woods because groundwater ponds are very common in his neighborhood.

So is your water depositing rust? If so, the water is otherwise toxic to fish and other organisms until the iron oxidizes. If the water volume you need from river is substantial and costly to pump, you may have the live with ground water and rust deposition. Knowing how much river water you may need to pump to counteract the inflow of groundwater might be determined by esshups' dye recommendation. So it may be worth gaining that metric. It may be worthwhile to take measurements of color or clarity in order to estimate the dilution/loss in terms of volume/time. The loss effect should be roughly equal to the dilution effect (same water that flows in probably equals the water flowing out + a relatively small evaporated volume). Evaporation will not dilute the dye.


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Ah thanks, that makes sense. I'll try get some dye and see what happens.

I also wonder if it'd make sense to dig a small well near the pond and measure the water level, and then try pump the pond to always be higher (an inch?) so there's always some positive pressure to keep ground water from coming into the pond? Would something like that work?

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it would not be necessary to dig a well. All you would need to do is set a guage stick in the pond and then if you can raise the level by pumping you know that you are holding back most of the flow of ground water into the pond. Depending on the permeability, it may be difficult to raise the water level by much. Either approach could provide information about the feasibility but with esshups suggestion you could determine whether it would be worthwhile to purchase a pump. How much land do you have? is there much elevation drop through it? If enough, you could build a well pond and install aeration to precipate the iron and then drain the cleaner water (after iron precipitated) to the larger pond. There would have to be difference in the ground water elevation of the well pond. It would have to be higher in elevation in order for it to gravity to the other. But if the flow was sufficient ... it might be enough to overcome inflow. Organics like leaves and such could help with forming a liner that would be stable if the flows into pond were sufficient. The pond is going to leak into the soil if its water elevation is higher than the local table ... so I am only talking about slowing the leaking sufficiently to allow the positive pressure in the pond relative to the table. Organics like cow manures are used in many parts of the world to slow filtration in fish production ponds. I have even used crumbled cow manure to slow leakage in an auto coolant system.

Last edited by jpsdad; 06/26/21 10:38 PM.

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The reason I asked is there might be a way to slow the water loss through the sand BUT you would need to keep the water pressure in the pond at a higher level than it is in the soil. If water is allowed to migrate into the pond through the sand (less water pressure in the pond than what is in the ground) then that could push the sealer into the pond and make it leak as if you never sealed the pond.

I will be doing some testing of that very theory using a polymer product later this summer and will have some concrete numbers to post.

jpsdad is absolutely correct in saying to oxygenate the water from the well to get the iron to precipitate out first, then let it flow into the pond. If the iron content of the water is very high, and you need to pump a lot of GMP to keep the pond full, you will need to periodically clean the iron oxide out of the settlement pond. i.e., a continuous 200 gpm would need weekly cleanings depending on the iron content and how big the settlement pond is.


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Thanks for the clever suggestions. The settlement pond would probably work well, just I think it's going to be a bit of an eye sore. It's a bit more work, but I'd probably rather just pump directly from the clean river. I'll keep an eye out for your results of he polymer product and see if it's something that would work for me. I guess if I can partially seal the sand, I'll need to pump a lot less water

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Originally Posted by FishMagnet
... I guess if I can partially seal the sand, I'll need to pump a lot less water

Yes. If you are going to pump ... the filtration will determine how much and how costly it will be. Any system requires maintenance but when you have to contribute energy to the equation then the costs can be prohibitive. If you could draft the river at an elevation above the pond surface... then it may be possible to gravity to the pond. That may require an easement(s) from a neighbor(s). Possibly you might have enough neighbors interested in forming an irrigation association or something like that.


It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so - Will Rogers


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Hi everyone,
I'm new here. I'm in the process of building a pond and I've hit some ground water around 6'. So I covered it back up about a foot in depth and I've packed it down and it will not hold water. It fills up and drains within a few days.

It sit for about a year and I'm just starting back on it to try and figure something out to get it to seal. I'm building the banks up to get a better depth on it , however it has a little water in the bottom with vegetation around it. So my question is , how do I need to go about getting everything to seal off ???

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Welcome to the forum.

To give yourself a good chance of sealing it you have to have a good supply of good clay. Dig out the area 24" deeper than you want the finished grade to be, make sure that it doesn't have standing water in it (pump it out and keep it pumped out) bring clay in and place in 6" thick layers. Roll over it with a sheepsfoot roller until the roller starts to walk up out of the ground, then bring in another 6" clay. Repeat until you have 4 layers built up for a total of 24" thickness.

If you are unsure about where the water is leaking out, do that to the whole area of the pond that will be covered with water.


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It also has some vegetation around the water that is standing and when I started digging in to it just to see how the soil was ( alot of clay and muck ) what little water that was there started draining out.

I have also found several areas while digging approximately 3' deep where water is draining or running underground through roughly 1" diameter streams. Not 100% sure if it's a spring or what.

When I made the decision to dig a pond it was mainly due to finding several sink holes. Originally thought it may be a spring that would help keep it full. I would attach a picture but don't know how on here

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Unfortunately springs don't have one way valves built into them. The water will flow both ways, depending on what end has more pressure.


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